Tuesday, May 02, 2017

The WGA strike has been averted... and other random topics

Well that was a nail biter. The WGA strike was averted at the very last minute when the Guild and Producers agreed on a tentative three-year deal. I don’t know the details. But if our negotiators are happy, I’m happy. I’ll get in my 10,000 steps a day elsewhere.

I’ve always been proud to be a member of the Writers Guild but never more than today. My extreme thanks to everyone from the negotiating team to the strike captains, Guild officers, and to the membership whose 96.3% strike authorization vote was I’m certain the reason we DID get a deal and avert a strike.

Also, thanks to the AMPTP for being reasonable and practical and getting it done. Like I’ve said, the ball is ALWAYS in their court.

Thank God Trump didn’t negotiate the WGA contract. We’d be on strike for four years.

But forget the WGA negotiations. The BIG story that has the entire industry buzzing is Ryan Seacrest announced as Kelly Ripa’s co-host. A year of auditions and speculation and rumors and lobbying for THIS???

Only seven more rounds of NBA playoffs before the finals.

Had a fantastic weekend mentoring at the WGA Veterans Retreat (along with David Isaacs and Peter Casey). I would put our military up against any other military in the world – in preparedness, in strength, and in comedy pilot writing.
Congratulation to all the Tony nominees. I don’t know who they are (I wrote this before the announcement and quite frankly was a little more concerned with the WGA saga… and who would be Kelly Ripa’s co-host) but I think you can bet on Bette.

HOUSE OF CARDS returns. I’ve always loved HOUSE OF CARDS but since the election I can’t stomach to watch any White House themed show. Maybe after the impeachment.

Cynthia Littleton of Variety.com had the best WGA strike coverage.

We had an earthquake last night in Santa Monica. It registered 3.0. Not a good night to be on the Ferris wheel on the pier.

Might Aaron Judge be the real deal? Yankee fans think so. Of course they felt that way about Steve Balboni.

Shake Shack or In N’ Out?

I’m loving season three of BETTER CALL SAUL, but I’m tired of Chuck. Every time he’s on the screen I pray for an electrical storm.

Check out my podcast this week, especially if you ever plan to fly on a US airline again. Find out what “calculated misery” is and why you’re the victim of it. “Fly the fiendish skies.” Click on the big gold arrow above.

Sean Hannity has threatened to leave Fox News. That’s like O.J. threatening to leave Brentwood.

I will be on 790 KABC radio talking with Doug McIntyre about the WGA strike this morning at 9:06 PDT. I have no idea what time that is in Iceland. Sorry. I was hoping maybe I could use this to audition for Kelly Ripa’s co-host, but now, what’s the use?
I hope you didn’t fall in love with YOU THE JURY. Fox pulled it after two airings. Even  I WANNA MARRY HARRY and THE SWAN lasted longer than that.

Fox also cancelled PITCH. Haters will blame Joe Buck.

Does anybody need 2,000 picket signs? 

Hackers kidnapped the new season of ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK and is demanding ransom from Netflix. $1,000,000 but Netflix has countered with $12.95 a month for 76,924 months.

How does the NBA Playstation game announcers give up to date info on games that actually took place the day before? Siri is nothing compared to these guys.

The pilots are in, speculation is rampant, and soon we will know which shows got picked up and which shows didn’t. Like I always say to the writer/creators – the winners go to work and the losers go to Hawaii.

The President of the United States knows nothing about the Civil War. I guess he didn’t go to “Ask Mr. Lincoln” attraction at Disneyland.

Loving FARGO. This year the story takes place in Minnesota. If you haven’t seen FARGO, it’s like JUSTIFIED but in a Blue State.

Yay.  No strike.  Finally, some GOOD news!


Peter said...

And here you are, Ken, in the Sky News report over the weekend on the planned strike!


CRL said...

Thank God Trump wasn't negotiating for YOU.

Roger Owen Green said...

I'm sorry Ryan Seacrest hadn't been able to find a job until now.

Hobbes said...

I thought of you, Ken, when I read this morning that the WGA reached a tentative deal. Glad it looks like it's going to work out for all concerned, especially the writers.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on the deal. Good news for lots of people.

Just wondering if you have come across Henry IX? I wonder if this is the shortest planned comedy season in TV history? It's a UK series.

Snookums said...

Too bad about the strike.... was looking forward to the original and correctly spelled picket signs. Maybe Ken will share some that were in the works.

VP81955 said...

TV has become such a big deal that the motion picture part of the negotiations essentially was viewed as an afterthought. (Alas.)

Bugdun said...

Yankees fans felt that way about Steve Balboni? Nah. Kevin Maas, yes. But not Balboni.

Anonymous said...

Glad the strike was averted.

Hate that Pitch got cancelled. It had its problems, but I really enjoyed it.

Seacrest????? Out.

Pam, St. Louis

Salad Is Slaughter said...

I can't watch any politically themed shows anymore. Even the worst bad guys that the writers can think up would be w-a-y better presidents than Trump.

john not mccain said...

"Thank God Trump didn’t negotiate the WGA contract."

As we have learned over the last couple of weeks, Trump's negotiating skills are on par with every other skill he has claimed to have, i.e. they are non-existent.

blinky said...

Shake Shack or In N’ Out?
Neither: Steak and Shake. Haven't seen one since I moved from Florida but they just opened one in Campbell...(Little town surrounded by San Jose, for those out of the area.)

Jenna said...

When a writer is paid at the time of writing an episode, why pay him again?

Do Software Engg. get paid everytime someone uses their software? No.... the company gets paid. Same way the studios and financers of that sitcom/movie need to be paid not writers.

Do the drivers, gofers, house keeping staff get paid everytime the episode is aired?

Phil said...

Friday Question: What is this "WGA Veterans Retreat" Ken?

Toby the Wonder Horse said...

Shake Shack or In N’ Out? What are those, favorite positions from the Kama Sutra?

Addisonfan said...

Fargo is good...American Crime was damn good...Justified one of my all time favorites

Peter said...

Johnny Rockets rules.

Jahn Ghalt said...

This post shows why yours is a goto site for entertainment and commentary.

Smart to rag on Trump as a surrogate for the suits whose policies make WGA negotiations necessary. Trump's not in the biz, to name the actual A$$#OLES would be professionally problematic.

The Lakers have been mediocre, then terrible, since Gasol was traded (or did he leave?). So it goes. Whenever the Lakers aren't in the hunt, I adopt a surrogate contender - Currently the Warriors, Jordan's Bulls in another generation - never LeBron's team. When the Lake's get back to winning, the playoffs will subjectively shrink to four rounds again.

Who is Ryan Seacrest?

Your comedy writer/military group-shot would look much cooler with automatic weapons - and even funny - but then I live in the 49th State where "even liberals think guns are cool" (one of my lines for those not in the know).

Thanks for the heads up on HOUSE OF CARDS. I'm a whole season behind, and now I've got two - to watch between NBA playoff and Mariners games.

California may be the only place in North America more seismically active than Alaska. An earthquake during a Ferris Wheel ride sounds like a bonus to me - a lot less adrenaline than those "super" roller coasters.

BETTER CALL SAUL is killing it. Vince Gilligan is very sure-handed and really knows how to go slow when it makes sense (much like Matthew Weiner). Chuck can go hang.

Who's Sean Hannity?

"...new season of ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK" - OH BOY, that's two can't miss series with two season I haven't yet seen.

Finally thanks for the reminder about FARGO - I hear they "remake" the series every year. But what's a "Blue State"? Oh yeah, that's the wrong color for left-or-center (as if we called the the USSR "the blues")

Mike said...

@Phil: Burn-outs from Cosby & Roseanne.

Barry Traylor said...


YEKIMI said...

We had an earthquake last night in Santa Monica. It registered 3.0. Not a good night to be on the Ferris wheel on the pier.

FAKE NEWS! It was actually 3.1 according to the USGS. Either way, being on the Ferris wheel during this quake beats being on it during a 8.0. If that had happened, they'd probably still be rolling across the Pacific halfway to Hawaii. And the Shake Shack probably lived up to its name yesterday.

Haven't really watched "Live with Kelly and Underemployed Guest Host" since Regis left. Only time I watched was when Kelly came back from having her hissy fit when she found out the same time as everyone else that Strahan was leaving and he came back to the show. Was hoping to see if there'd be a fist fight between the two or if one of them choked the life out of the other. Sadly, I was disappointed. Now that Seacrest has been named co-host I think I'll delete the ABC channel from my TV
or maybe just watch to see if Gelman hangs himself. It's bad enough that Seacrest has put a few DJs out of work with his syndicated show, now the TV people better get ready to see what it's like.

MikeN said...

Here is Ken's list of 7 demands.


It looks like something was agreed to on five of these, including Ken's first three.
Not sure what the money level is, but it looks like a successful negotiation, contrary to my pessimistic view.

VP81955 said...

Peter, Johnny Rockets is owned by the despicable Dan Snyder, owner of the Redskins (the one Washington team this D.C.-area emigre won't root for). It's not just that he refuses to change the franchise's racist name (it was also the last pro team to integrate, under original owner George Preston Marshall), but that he's an inept owner who's anything but customer-friendly, in contrast to the Lerners (who own the Nats) and Ted Leonsis (owner of the Caps and Wiz). I detest the guy.

Oh, and I'll take Virginia-based Five Guys over Shake Shack, In-N-Out and even Tommy's. The burgers are great, and the fries delicious and plentiful. And I haven't even mentioned the complimentary peanuts.

MikeN said...

Come on Ken, by now everyone should know it's Five Guys.

Trump's negotiating is better than it looks.

ADmin said...

Congratulations!! (Although I heard, in the new agreement, the term "Minimal Writing" now applies to Trump speeches.) (nyuck,nyuck) (sorry)

Barry Traylor said...

HOUSE OF CARDS returns. I’ve always loved HOUSE OF CARDS but since the election I can’t stomach to watch any White House themed show. Maybe after the impeachment.

I feel the same as you Ken.

sanford said...

Might have eaten at a shake shack once, but In and Out way over rated

Edward said...

Kelly better keep her antenna up as Seacrest may try to make her Brian Dunkelman #2!

Francis Dollarhyde said...

Ken, did you read Woody Harrelson's Q&A with readers of "The Guardian" a few days ago?


When asked about Cheers, Woody spoke about learning from the work ethic of the writers/producers.

Diane D said...

Have you read the fabulous article in the May issue of The Atlantic, entitled "The Secret Life of Pitchers" by Will Leitch? It's about Commissioner Rob Manfred wanting to speed up the "pace of play" in numerous ways, but the worst of them involves the pitcher.


Friday Question: what is your opinion of his ideas, and do you think there is any chance of the changes happening? Some changes have already been made in the minor leagues. It is thought that these changes are necessary to appease increasingly restless fans.

By Ken Levine said...

Diane D., I'll answer it now. Don't fuck with the game. First of all, the players' union won't let him do half that stuff. And secondly, if he wants to speed up the game, cut the commercials break in half. There's 18 minutes right there.

forg/jecoup said...


Designated Survivor has been pulling solid ratings but I do wonder if the elections somehow affected its ratings

Based on the "pilot buzz" from Deadline and Variety, ABC is on the fence with the political comedy pilot with Felicity Huffman and Courtney B Vancem, this was the first pilot ordered this season and was assumed to be a near lock for a pick up.

Do you think the political climate will affect how networks pick up shows this season?

Johnny Walker said...

"No school tomorrow in Borneo!" Ha. Love it. You should have kept at as your trademark call, although you may have needed a new backstory.

Peter said...

Jeez, VP81955, I just liked their burgers when I visited LA. I didn't realize I needed to Wikipedia the chain first to find out about its owners. I was in Santa Monica and I was hungry.

Diane D said...

Thanks, Ken, I feel better. Those changes involving the pitcher sounded dreadful. But Leitch's description of what goes on between the pitcher and the batter was amazing.

BluePedal said...

Can someone in Hollywood please adapt the old comic strip Henry into a television series and cast Jonathan Banks as Henry? I would watch an hour of Mr Banks being totally silent and contemplating every move he makes week after week. No thought bubbles over his head either like Henry had. Just Jonathan being silent.

Henry - Portrait of a Serial Comic Strip Character

There is something magical about Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut contemplating his next move.